Posts Tagged ‘Tasers’

Tickets Please – Or Else

April 18, 2008

Vancouver and British Columbia are gaining a reputation for having taser-happy cops.  Recent statistics show that you’re much more likely to be tasered in Western Canada than in the rest of the country.  BC has the highest number of taser incidents in the country, with over 500, followed by Alberta, with over 400.  The drop off to the next province is a steep one.  Ontario and Quebec, with larger populations, have had only a small fraction of those numbers.

By now, the Robert Dziekanski incident at Vancouver International Airport is world famous.  “Welcome to Canada.”  ZAP.  Maybe it’s something about transportation facilities that puts cops and security officers on edge, because now we’re finding out that Transit Police on the Skytrain are using them on people, too.  No, not on suspected terrorists.  Believe it or not, at least five fare dodgers have been tasered.  Fare dodgers!  Call me soft on crime, if you must, but that strikes me as rather harsh.

Just how they justify tasering fare dodgers is beyond me.  How great a threat do they really  represent?  If that doesn’t demonstrate that tasers are being used as a first response rather than a final measure for potentially dangerous assailants, what does?  This is just lazy policing, at best.  “I can’t be bothered wrestling him to the ground, so I’ll just zap ‘im.”  Maybe it’s worse.  Maybe it’s, “I can get away with zappin’ ‘im cuz he tried to get away”.  Give some people a uniform…

There are supposed to be guidelines for the use of these things.  The RCMP and local police forces like the VPD are supposed to have policies, anyway.  The transit police aren’t real police, though.  Who knows what policies and guidelines they have, if any?  They’ve been accused of using excessive force in the past, even before they started carrying tasers.

I don’t know if there are provincial or national guidelines governing all use of tasers.  If there aren’t, there should be.  News reports about the statistics seem to indicate that there are.  If those rules do exist, they need to be enforced.  Otherwise, we’ll have cops and pseudo-cops tasering anyone they like, for whatever reason – or just because they can.

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Take a Gander, Why Don’t Ya?

April 9, 2008

I watched the movie ‘Flight Plan’ on TV last night.  Well, most of it, anyway.  I missed the beginning.  Normally, Jodie Foster’s presence in a movie automatically lends it a certain quality.  It can usually be assumed to be a cut above.  Not this time.  There was a glaring mistake so bad it insulted both my intelligence and my national pride.

If you aren’t familiar with it, the story is about a woman whose daughter goes missing in a passenger jet mid-flight over the Atlantic Ocean and her subsequent struggle to find her and convince everyone else on board that she was ever there.  The plot thickens as it twists and turns then at some point the decision is made to make a premature landing in Newfoundland.

Initially, I was impressed by how perfectly the characters pronounced “Newfoundland”, with the emphasis on the last syllable and virtually eliminating any vowel sound from the second syllable.  Most Canadians west of the Gulf of St. Lawrence don’t even say it right, enunciating and emphasizing the middle syllable instead.   Gander was later mentioned by name.  “Well”, I thought, “they seem to know their stuff.  Here are some Hollywood types who actually took the time to find something out about Canada.  At last, a little respect”.

All that came to an abrupt end when the plane landed at Gander, Newfoundland,  and dozens of FBI agents were waiting for it.  FBI agents!  What are FBI agents doing in Gander, Newfoundland in the middle of the night?  What country is Newfoundland a part of?  And what country is the FBI an agency of?

This is cultural imperialism aimed at Canada, plain and simple – a complete and utter lack of respect.  You know as well as I do that if the plane had landed in Britain, MI5 or MI6 or MIwhatever agents would have been waiting.  But, we don’t even rate our own federal agents in the movies.  What, they’ve never heard of the RCMP?  Everybody’s heard of the mounties.  And, when it comes to airport showdowns, they taser with the best of them.  They always get their man, necessary or not.

Maybe the producers went even further and simply annexed Newfoundland and Labrador for the U.S.  Maybe they figured that would make the plot simpler.  Maybe they’re not even aware it’s in another country.  The movie industry already considers Canada a part of the U.S.  We’re included in the ‘domestic’ market by distributors.  Why not just extend that into the plots of movies?

Ms. Foster, I’m officially over my ‘Taxi Driver’ crush.  Having said that, if you’re ready to respect me… call me.

Tasers For Self Defence – Coming To a Store Near You?

January 13, 2008

Recently, I read that the good people at the company that makes the Taser, those adamant deniers that their product is a potentially lethal weapon, are planning to introduce Tasers for self defence.  Specifically, they will be targeting women with ‘female friendly’ Tasers.  They’ll be available in pink and other nice, bright colours, so they can do double duty as fashion accessories.  I guess if you make something pretty enough, it ceases to be a weapon.  So, a gun with a mother-of-pearl inlaid handle isn’t a gun and a jewel encrusted dagger isn’t a knife.

Maybe this is already a reality in the U.S. but, apparently, they want to bring it here, too.  Just what we need, a readily available weapon that criminals can get their hands on to use against their victims.  An easy way to immobilize someone before you rob, beat, or rape them.  What?  Criminals getting them?  But they’re for self defence, aren’t they?  Sure they are – just like all the guns that are used by criminals.  Another American import.

No doubt they will roll out some veneer-thin security system that will ‘ensure’ that only law-abiding potential victims can get them, but we’ve seen how easy these are to get around.  Just off the top of my head, for instance, since women are the target market, any woman would probably be able to get one.  But are women always victims?  Violent crimes by women and girls seems to be much more common these days.

And what about male criminals’ girlfriends?  They could walk in, declare their fear of being raped, walk out with a Taser, and hand it to their mugger boyfriend.

Then there’s the Tasers that will fall into the hands of criminals because the victims didn’t get them out fast enough, and they were stolen along with the rest of the contents of her bag.

There doesn’t seem to be a lot of foresight being exercised on their part.  Or maybe they just don’t care.  For the moment, it’s a tough sell in Canada, company executives say.  Some high profile deaths, including that of Robert Dziekanski, will prevent approval by the government, in the short term.  But they plan to “re-educate” the Canadian public on Tasers.  How Maoist.  Get ready for the bombardment.

The Nuts Are Out

January 10, 2008

As convenient as online banking is, there is still the odd occasion when you have to go to the actual bricks-and-mortar bank and deal with an actual person.  One such occasion occurred the other day.  I set out, cheque in pocket.

Walking along Broadway, I heard a car horn and shouting.  I looked up the street and saw a drunk, stoned, or maybe just crazy guy in the middle of the road, in front of a stationary pickup or SUV that was blocking the intersection.  As I approached, I got a better look at the guy in the road.  He was wearing an old light blue parka style coat.  As I passed them, I got a better look at him than I wanted.  The moon was out early that afternoon…  Beneath the coat, his pants were hanging below his ass.  Apparently, he doesn’t dress in layers for the winter.  A siren blasted and an unmarked police car appeared out of nowhere.  I guess that’s why they’re unmarked, no?

Continuing along Broadway, I heard another siren blast.  I turned to see two women getting out of the unmarked police car and another unmarked car pulling up from the opposite direction, followed by a police cruiser.  A pretty impressive display of force for a guy whose pants were falling down.  I felt safer already.

After doing a good deed at the bank that caused me to wait far longer than necessary and, therefore, to begin to regret my own niceness, I headed back the same way.  One of those square police vans for prisoners – a modern version of the old paddy wagon, I guess – had joined the other three vehicles.  The guy was surrounded by cops.  I thought they were searching or cuffing him but, as I passed, I saw they were trying to keep his pants up.  One of the women grinned good humouredly as she put some kind of belt on him and told him that should hold them up.  She must have thought, “This isn’t what I signed up for”, before the pants were up.  I wonder who drew the short straw.

And not a taser in sight.